October 25, 2011

...3 burned out bulbs, 2 sets of shades, and a partridge in a pear tree!

This weekend, I got ambitious. (Alright, so doing something that you’ve been meaning to do three months isn’t all that ambitious. But it was productive. So maybe I should start over.)


This weekend, I was productive (sound better?).  I finally got myself up on my stepladder and dismantled my disgusting dining room chandelier. I knew that it was dusty and could do with a good washing, but, trust me, if I’d known how bad it was I would have done it sooner.

Pretty gross, huh? And I’m sad to say that it gets worse.

I can’t tell you how embarrassed I am to show you this. But since I’ve promised to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly in my home adventure and this falls into two out of those three categories, here it is.

To start cleaning this beast, I began by pulling all the small shades/globes down.

Cleaning the glass was really simple, if disgusting. I used a dry paper towel to get out the bulk of the dust, then wiped down each shade/globe with a wet washcloth. I patted each dry with a different towel, then finished off with some Windex . When I was done, this was the difference between the dirty and the clean:

Well, once I saw how clean the small shades got, I knew I couldn’t just do a quick wipe-down of the large shade, like I had originally planned on. I had Denny help me take down the large shade (which ended up being easy, but definitely a four-handed job) so that our poor chandelier looked like this:

Although, oddly enough, I rather liked this bare bones look. If I had been able to find a way to make the bottom portion presentable, I might have considered keeping it like this. Instead, I cleaned the large shade and the two of us put it back up. I put the small shades in, then popped in new bulbs. The end result was this:

I know it looks nice in this picture, but even this doesn’t really do it justice. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and some new bulbs can do for a fixture. Wait! I didn’t tell you about the bulbs, did I? Oh, yeah. They were quite entertaining. There were 8 different types of bulbs. Did you hear that? 8! Want to see? I know you do. Here they are…

      1)   New, large 60 watt bulb

2)   Burned-out, small 15 watt bulb

3)   Two small, burned-out chandelier bulbs

4)   Small, working 15 watt bulb

5)   Small, clear 40 watt bulb

6)   Burned-out, large 60 watt bulb

7)   Small, working, soft-white 40 watt bulb

8)   Large, working chandelier bulb

Nine bulbs, only two of which are the same (ie. the small burned-out chandelier bulbs). Anyway, so I got rid of the whole lot and put in six new 60 watt bulbs in the small shades and three new chandelier bulbs. Weirdly, though, the only chandelier bulbs we could find (admittedly, in Safeway, which doesn’t have such a great selection) were blue bulbs. See?

They’re supposed to put out an exceptionally clear light—no yellowing. Which it held true to; I've never seen prettier light.

And no blue sheen, which we were worried about. The whole thing looks beautifully clean and white. And, now, since Denny is begging me to just wrap up this post already, I’ll leave you with this little reminder of just how pretty my “new” chandelier is.

October 22, 2011

WWTGS (aka: What Would Tim Gunn Say?)

Last weekend, I decided to tackle my plain-Jane curtains. So while Denny was doing this,

I was turning the lower living room curtains into something slightly more impressive than they were. Which was this:

As I said before, I had this idea of putting some kind of ribbon border along the edge and fancifying it up (like that word?—yeah, I just thought of it now). So I went to Joann’s and came home with several different spools of ribbon, ranging from an extra-wide, white “lattice” pattern to thin, old-fashioned, pale-teal ribbon with a loop border. In the end, though, I decided on a ½” bold teal. It contrasted nicely with the color of the curtains and wasn’t too…quaint? Is that the word I’m looking for? I suppose. The ½” teal was the only one that didn’t look too countrified (a word which I decidedly did not make up but which fits the situation perfectly). So, on it went!

I began by laying out my curtains on the floor in front of the TV with You’ve Got Mail playing (is anyone surprised?) and used some double-sided “Peel’n’Stick” to start laying down the ribbon along the seam at the bottom. I simply took the tape, cut it in half, and pressed it along the ribbon, being careful not to get any outside the edges. However, once I got it finished with the first row, I realized that it needed a little something more, so I got out the 2” painters tape left over from the cabinets and used it to create an even spacer along the entire first ribbon.

The next step is exactly like the first step, except…well, I used double-sided Scotch tape on the ribbon. This is due to the fact that I had to cut the other stuff with scissors to get it to the right width (it was about a ¼” too wide) and therefore gummed up two sets of scissors by the end of the first curtain. However, for the second curtain, I was a little more innovative. Instead of using double-sided tape or trying to cut the “Peel’n’Stick” adhesive with scissors, I got out a box cutter and cut it directly on the roll to the size I wanted. Easy-peasy.

Next, I continued to carefully lay out the ribbon in straight lines with the Peel’n’Stick (which I recommend over the Scotch tape), then finished off the rows neatly. To make it look less like…well, taped-on ribbon, I made sure to line up the edges of the ribbon with the hem lines and also made sure the edges were carefully cut and not frayed. Now that I think of it, I should go back and add some non-fray glue to the ends…

And there you have it! A chic, simple addition to plain-Jane curtains! Of course, I didn’t stop there, though. After hearing about Mom’s new curtains, which have tab backs and thereby a nice pleated look, I decided to create a similar effect on my own curtains. I decided to be resourceful (aka: cheap) and use the extra Peel’n’Stick and ribbon to create hanging tabs on the back of the curtains (thanks for the inspiration, Mummy!).

Again, out came the blue painters tape (I love that it gives me a consistent and removable guideline). Next, I Peel’n’Stick-ed a bunch of four inch cuts of ribbon along the edge of the tape, using a piece of cardboard as a space measure.

I then laid out my curtain rod along the ribbon tabs and used more “permanent” P’n’S to attach the other end of the ribbon (those quotations are sarcastic by the way—can you see where this is going?).

Simple, right? But right away, there were problems, because although the top looked mighty spiffy…

…the hem was just a wee bit shorter than I liked.

And it got worse, because by the end of Sunday night, the whole thing looked like this:

Yeah, “permanent,” my butt. Oh, well. I guess that’s what you get for going the lazy route and trying to tape your curtains up. So, now they look like this:

And, while that is still an improvement over the ribbon-less curtains of a few weeks ago, I just can’t get the memory of those nice pleats out of my mind. Sewing isn’t an option (because I don’t know how to sew them on in such a way that the seams won’t show through the front side) and it’s clear that adhesive simply won’t do the trick. Oh, well. I guess that leaves me two options: either get over it, or get my Project-Runway on and “Make it work.” Which leaves me to wonder, what would Tim say about the tape fiasco? No doubt he’d give me the chin-holding-elbow-propped-stare-down, then shake his head in disappointment. I can just see it now…(and you can, too, right around second 22 of this clip!)

"These are a few of my fav-o-rite thiiiiiiiiingsss!"

Hello, everyone! Long time no see! This week was super insane, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. I do promise to bore you with the details of my most recent curtain adventure later tonight, though. Aren’t you excited?

Until then, I thought that I’d post a couple of recipes which I’ve been loving lately and which I’ve promised to share with a few people. I’m putting them both up on the blog because while they may not be “home improvement” related, they are definitely mood-improving. And as the days continue to get greyer and the skies damper, I’m sure everyone could use a little boost.

So, go ahead and try these recipes out. I promise you won’t regret it! :)

Zucchini Pie

When I first told Denny that I was making “Zucchini Pie” for dinner, you should have seen his face. First of all, he hates pie. Secondly, if zucchini is the main ingredient, you might as well shoot him now and put him out of his misery. However, once he took a bite of this delicious one-dish meal, he was completely sold. He had seconds, then thirds, and then an hour later finished off the leftovers. As you can see, this dish is definitely a good choice for veggie-lovers and carnivores alike.


·         2 cups chopped zucchini

·         2 diced fresh tomatoes

·         a half package of bacon, cooked + crumbled

·         1 small onion diced

·         1 cup of cheese (we use mild cheddar)

·         ¼ cup of oil

·         4 eggs

·         1 cup Bisquick mix

·         salt and pepper


1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.   Add first 6 ingredients together in a bowl, mixing thoroughly. Put in glass baking dish (either a casserole dish or a pie dish works fine). Salt and pepper the mix.

3.   Whisk the 4 eggs together with the Bisquick. Pour batter over the veggies and bacon mix.

4.   Pop in the oven and bake for 30 minutes!

5.   When 30 minutes are up, pull out and let cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy! Makes a great dinner or breakfast!


Russian Tea

This recipe is one of the reasons why fall is my favorite season. Pretty much from mid-October through the end of February, this is all I drink. Last year I even took it to school with me in a plastic bag and made it throughout the day. In short, once you get a taste of this cozy and tangy tea, you’ll wish you had a constant IV drip of it for the rest of the season. You have been warned.


·         1 cup instant tea powder

·         2 cups Tang

·         ¼ cup of lemonade mix

·         1 cup of white sugar

·         2 tsp. cinnamon

·         ½ tsp. cloves


1.   Mix all ingredients together in a storage container.

2.   To make the tea, add 2 tablespoons to a mug of hot water and stir well.

3.   Drink.

4.   Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Photo Credits:
Zucchini Pie picture from Chickens In the Road
Russian Tea picture by me

October 16, 2011

New Beginnings

So, as promised, I return for yet another weekend post! That’s something that might become a more common occurrence in the coming weeks, as things pick up at school and I become progressively more brain-dead by the end of the day. Just sayin’.

Anyhow, yesterday I left off with us having dug up one dead cherry tree and left with an empty hole in the ground. Usually I’m totally fine with leaving things half-finished (kitchen cabinets, anyone?) but for some reason that empty hole really depressed me. I simply couldn’t wait. Off to Home Depot we went. However, when we arrived in the garden section, happily anticipating hauling home a baby tree of our own, we were saddened to see that the whole garden center had been practically cleared out of trees! We could either have a mangled arborvitae or a stunted magnolia. Hmmm…not what we were imagining when we set out on our little adventure.

Feeling extremely disheartened, we made do with a bag of tulip bulbs and were in the process of dragging our sorry butts home when—There they were! Turns out that the HD folks hadn’t gotten rid of them, they’d just moved all the trees out front and around the corner, completely out of sight of the entrance but only two steps from the exit. The selection here was much better and after much hemming and hawing we decided on this guy:

A flowering “winter king” hawthorn. Lovely, eh? Only…uh, it doesn’t look quite like that just yet. It looks more like this…

Kind of scrawny, right? However, Denny thinks that its lack of leaves is most likely due to it having been stuck in the middle of a bunch of other trees, resulting in a very sparse middle and a leafier top. However, if it turns out that we’re wrong and its leaflessness is due to something else, HD has a one year guarantee on all plants, so we’ll be able to get our money back. And until then, we’ve lovingly dubbed it “our Charlie Brown tree.”

So, I’ve been living under the impression that tree planting is really strenuous work. Actually, I’ve been living under the idea that any type of planting is tough. Turns out that planting trees (or maybe just tree, singular) is really easy.

Step 1) Dig hole.

Step2) Position tree. Make sure it’s centered and straight up and down.

Step 3) Throw some of this stuff in with the tree roots to fertilize:

Step 4) Have your husband do some move shoveling, because God knows he hasn’t done enough shoveling today to last him a lifetime.

Step 5) Observe and record as Husband finishes filling giant hole with dirt. This is a very important step (right?).

At this point, you could skip right ahead to Step 6, which is level soil and water liberally. However, remember that bag of bulbs that I dejectedly bought earlier? Well, there was all that lovely fertilized dirt (I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth/computer) and since I was in a planting mood (instead of a “ripping things out” mood for a change) I took advantage of the moment and stuck a bunch of bulbs in the dirt. Denny helped.

Of course, these won’t come up until next spring, but it’s still really exciting for some reason. Hopefully Mom’s squirrels won’t dig them up before they can do whatever it is that bulbs do on their way to becoming flowers (I call them “Mom’s” because she feeds them when she comes to visit and has even asked about their wellbeing on occasion…)

After our bulb planting, we went back to Step 6 and this was the lovely result. We love him. So much that we should probably give him a name. Wait! And he will be my squishy and I will call him Squishy! Squishy, Squishy, Squishy! (Oh, pardon me. There’s a chance I’m a little more tired than I thought…)

October 15, 2011


Wow! Today we were busy All. Stinking. Day. We didn’t wake up very early, but we definitely hit the ground running. Up. Make coffee. Make breakfast quiche (fresh breakfast quiche, not a re-heat). Cut down tree. Work on—wait. You probably want to hear about what else we’ve been chopping down, don’t you? I know you do.
Well, remember this guy?

No? Probably because I don’t think I’ve ever remarked on it before. This is due to the fact that it is…wait for it…Dead. So very exciting. Except, you know, not. So today we finally did something about this very underwhelming element of our yard. In short, Denny got out his chainsaw and hacked that sucker down. But since I can never tell a short story about anything, here’s a little elaboration in the form of pictures and some snarky commentary. ;)

Look at that boy. Definitely knows his way around a chainsaw. Let’s time him, shall we?

Time lapsed: 8 seconds

Time lapsed: 12.4 seconds

Time lapsed: 17 seconds


See? He had that thing pared down in under a minute.

Next up was the time-consuming task of digging out the roots. I…uh…wanted to help. But…I didn’t. So.

When I came back it looked like this! (I love you, Denny; thank you!) After digging most of the dirt out and exposing the roots, he brought the trusty ol’ chainsaw back out and did a little rootectomy.

And then it was time to wiggle that thing out like a bad tooth (nice imagery, huh?).

Wait a second… That looks awfully familiar… Oh, yeah! Remember this?

The wiggle worked then and it worked again today. In no time at all, we (Denny) was hauling the stump out to add to our ever growing pile of dead things. Huh. That sounded wrong. Pile of dead plants. Anyway…

Ta-daaaaah! Dead tree = Gone. And while that did take up quite a bit of our time today, that’s definitely not all she wrote. Except that, well, it is going to be all I “wrote” today. I’ll report back tomorrow with the rest of the story (spoiler alert: we planted stuff). Until then, in the spirit of Halloween, I’ll leave you with this little pic…

October 12, 2011

The Attack of the 118-inch Window

I mentioned on Monday that lately we’ve been incredibly productive—and, it’s true, we had. Notice that past tense? Yeah. It’s like that. In the short amount of time that we’ve lived in our house, I’ve come to notice that there’s a distinct ebb and flow to home improvement progress. One week you can barely keep up with the insane amount of projects on your plate and it seems like you’re constantly busy hanging something or ripping out this or decorating that. The next week…blah. You sit and watch TV from your dining room (because the TV is too big to watch from less than fifteen feet away—a first world problem if I’ve ever heard one) and the most you can work up the energy to do is a load of laundry…and that’s only because you’ve started to recycle your socks.

This week has thus far been one of those sock-recycling-kind of weeks. This is not to say that we’ve been entirely lazy on the house front! I mean, I cooked. Like, every day this week. And not just pizza either. I also did laundry and planned a few more projects and did other necessary things, like work and school. But those aren’t the kind of thing you write up for your blog. At least, not this kind of blog.

Anyhow, this is all a really long way of saying, I’m sorry that I’m behind posting about things that are actually home related. It’s also to say that there’s still stuff I have to show you from last week. Like this project…

Can you guess what project I’m talking about? Maybe this will help…

That’s right! We finally put window coverings over our gigantic, monstrous, glass behemoth! Frankly, it’d been driving both of us crazy for a while. For me, it was the fact that I knew people could see inside our house at night while all I could see was a reflection of myself and the ridiculous mess still inhabiting our front living room. For Denny, it was the idea of all that wasted energy leaking out of the giant hole in the front of our house. And since the weather has been getting increasingly cold and damp, it was definitely time to take action.

We talked about a number of options, like ordering custom-size roman shades, putting up thermal curtains, and a few other ideas, but in the end we decided to stick with a pair of roll-up shades in natural wood. The price was right, the look was dandy, and since the glass is already double-paned, Denny thought that we could probably get away with something lighter than the heavy thermal-block curtain idea (which I was thrilled to hear). So we spent a considerable amount of time trolling Home Depot and Lowe’s before deciding on some 60”x72” designview Panama Natural Roller Shades from Home Depot. We had the guy at H.D. cut a half inch off of each set (we bought two of them) to fit our 118” window, then we took our shades home and prayed they’d go up easy.

I’m inclined to think that they went up pretty easy—but then again that’s probably because Denny did all the work while I did what I’m doing right now: sat on my butt and blogged. Poor Denny. He does all the hard work in our projects, which I inevitably sum up as “...and then Denny measured, drilled, and some other stuff and now look at my pretties!” Talk about understatements.

But…seriously, guys…Look at my pretties!

They turned out so well! I was a little worried about them being bulgy where they roll up, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen sleeker blinds. I was also concerned about how much of a gap there’d be between the two rollers, since the mounting hardware had to be accommodated for, but Denny did some kind of magic trick and decreased the gap to less than an inch! See?

We’re also extremely pleased with the texture of the blinds, which ended up being not too busy but also not a bland wall of beige. Aaaaand…

Ta-daaaaah! No more peeping Tom neighbors! In short, this project was a total “mission accomplished” and we’ve now managed to put up six whole window treatments! Wow! That’s a lot of exclamation points! But I’m really excited, so…yay!!!!!!!!

(Sidenote: I think I’m maybe drunk on the feeling of window-treatment-success. That or I should not have had that fifth cup of coffee just now. Just a thought.)